Colonie Bistro

COLONIE, Bistro & Bar, Karaköy-Istanbul (2014)
client: Desert Group, Istanbul.
Photography: Ali Bekman

Koray Ozgen created and oversaw the implementation of the design concept for the Colonie project and contributed individual designs for the custom-made elements of the interior. In collaboration with Ozgen, AKS (M. Öztürk and N. Kanatli – Istanbul) worked on the interior layout design and construction management. Engin Öztekin created the exclusive illustrations for the open kitchen shutters. Berliner designers A. Bormann and S. Serman handcrafted the special effects on walls, curtains and columns.

Ozgen’s goal was to create an ambience that remained true to the rich culture and vibrant spirit of the historic port district of Galata, Istanbul, and then reinterpret and update it in order to create a modernized version that shared the same qualities of historical bistros in other world-famous port-cities of the same calibre, like Rotterdam, New York, and Marseille.
By mixing traditional and brut materials with classical furniture pieces of Jean Prouvé and Jørgen Bækmark, Ozgen emphasized his main idea of merging local and contemporary.
The result is a modern interpretation of the cosmopolitan port spirit, combining high hospitality in the interior spaces of the bistro with contemporary, accessible public spaces nearby.
Defending the idea of ‘less construction but more emotions’ for this project, Ozgen design studio avoided the elements such as suspended plaster ceiling and standard wall panels as well as excessive built-in local furniture but favoured the custom designed elements and visual effects realized by crafts people along with the original brand furniture and accessories.
The interior chairs are by Swiss furniture brand Vitra and Danish Hay while the pendant lightings are by Normann Copenhagen and &Tradition. The outdoor seats are by French Fermob.
Colonie is an open space divided into three sections including a terrace, a bar/charcuterie area, and an eatery with open kitchen.
An easy transition between the terrace, the bar and the eatery is obtained by progressive grey background tones, complemented by blacksmith-style rot-iron work, with copper and brass accents.
The terrace is closely connected to the pedestrian walkway from Galata Bridge to the Modern Art Museum (Istanbul Modern). The outdoor areas of Colonie, such as a bicycle park, a dog corner and a smoking bench are accessible to all passing through the neighborhood. A ‘green wall’ of different sized plants and pots mark the boundary of the exterior space; green plants in rusted steel cylindrical pots help isolate the terrace from the local car traffic.
The main entrance opens to the bar space, the venue’s most vibrant section. Suspended bar shelves, custom-designed by Ozgen Design Studio, are a visual highlight. The five swinging brass structures hold liqueur bottles, tumblers and wine glasses, giving a sense of ‘chandeliers’ illuminating the countertop. A local workshop was contracted to custom-manufacture the brass bar units, as well as the blacksmith-style high seating and the brut windows fittings.
The bar consists of two parts: At the entrance, a long marble countertop with a tap beer area and vintage beer glass collection display Turkey’s well-known beer brand. The background invokes a feeling of flashback to the 70’s.
At the back of the bar, a neon light ambience takes over. Here, the ‘charcuterie area’ of the bistro serves delicacies of vintage ham and imported cheese.
Checkerboard-style cast mosaic floors with brass joints separate the bar visually from the rest of the bistro.
The bar can be separated from the eatery space by curtains in the late evenings when the high-volume music starts in the bar area. The curtains are hand-stitched with copper strings and match the hand-crafted patterns on the lateral rough cement wall surfaces of the restaurant section. A simple technique of painting the stripped concrete columns with copper paint create the illusion of industrial cast metal elements. Berliner designers, Bormann and Serman, performed these precise craftwork interventions.
A steel structure placed at the centre of the eatery serves as a focal point for this section. The slender black steel structure is accented in combination with copper and combines waiter’s stations, wine fridges, food vessel storage cabinets, glass shelves storing condiments, wine and olive oil bottles. Plants in ceramic pots are distributed at different levels to contribute an organic quality to the space.
Ozgen created two warm lighting installations with copper-wire-framed incandescent bulbs hung at different heights. Lights are connected to each other via copper woven cables that symmetrically highlight the eatery spaces. These clustered elements contribute a sculptural element to the hand crafted solid oak and white Carrara marble tables.
In the eatery, pendant lightings hang from galvanized pipelines, while the rough cement walls are ‘free hand’ decorated with copper tone. These globe-shaped pendant lights mixed with brass, copper or marble fittings are featured over all the benches. All these elements give a strong industrial character to this eatery space.
Open kitchen
A custom-designed marble façade oven with nearby wood storage area, gives a distinctive contemporary character to the open kitchen, which is otherwise dominated by stainless steel.
After the dinner service, the open kitchen is smoothly closed off with an opaque shutter-door. The kitchen shutters are accented beautifully with an expressive illustration by Engin Öztekin, which gives
a clever silhouetted reference to the backstage activities of Colonie’s kitchen actors.